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Covid-19 panel head VK Paul




(L-R) Joint Secretary of Home Ministry Punya Salila Srivastava, Joint Secretary of Health Ministry Lav Agarwal, Niti Aayog Member V.K. Paul briefing the media over COVID-19, in New Delhi
(L-R) Joint Secretary of Home Ministry Punya Salila Srivastava, Joint Secretary of Health Ministry Lav Agarwal, Niti Aayog Member V.K. Paul briefing the media over COVID-19, in New Delhi on 24 April 2020 | ANI

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New Delhi: The nationwide lockdown in India was timely and if it wasn’t imposed, the country would have seen over 1 lakh positive cases, according to V.K. Paul, NITI Aayog member and chairperson of Empowered Group 1, one of the 11 groups formed to tackle the Covid-19 outbreak.

The lockdown in India became a ‘Jan Aandolan’ (public movement), he said at a media briefing Friday.

Paul added the doubling rate of the Covid-19 virus on 21 March was three days, which has gone up to almost ten days over the last few days due to several steps taken by the Government of India. 

While India was able to increase the doubling rate from three days to five days with “incremental steps” like imposing travel restrictions and creating an atmosphere of social distancing, it has been able to reduce it further with bigger steps such as a national lockdown, he added.

The effects of the lockdown will continue to be seen until the second week of May, said Paul.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced a three-week nationwide lockdown from 25 March, which was further extended until 3 May.

Also read: ‘Had you not been PM’ — praise and a poem for Modi during video chat with sarpanches

Recovery rate has increased to 20.57%

At the briefing, when asked if there is a possibility of an extension of the lockdown, Director General of the Press Information Bureau Kuldeep Dhatwalia said it is “too early” to say anything.

Health Ministry Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal said there were 1,684 new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours — taking the total tally to 23,077.

The recovery rate has increased to 20.57 per cent, he added at the briefing.

On 9 April, at a media briefing, the Ministry of External Affairs Secretary (West) Vikas Swarup had said India would have had up to 8.2 lakh positive cases by 15 April had it not been for the 21-day nationwide lockdown.

Swarup had said the 8.2 lakh figure was based on a study by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). 

4 more teams formed for Covid inspection in states

Joint Secretary, Home, Punya Salila Srivastava said the government has constituted four more inter-ministerial central teams (IMCTs), which would be sent to Ahmedabad, Surat, Hyderabad and Chennai for on-spot assessment of the Covid-19 situation there.

The government also shared the findings of two of the earlier IMCTs, constituted by the home ministry, which were sent to Indore and Mumbai. 

Agarwal said the teams met senior officers, examined the containment zones, hospitals and critical management of patients, contact-tracing techniques, etc. and made some recommendations to the state governments as well.

Speaking of district-level surveillance carried out by the government, Dr Sujit Kumar Singh, director of the National Centre for Disease Control, said the Centre is maintaining a live dashboard that captures real-time data from the district level, and also the status of beds and PPEs in each district.

He said nearly 9,45,000 people are currently under surveillance and they have been divided into high and low-risk categories.

Also read: Plasma therapy on Delhi Covid-19 patients yields positive results, say Kejriwal & top doctor


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Andhra doctor, suspended for alleging PPE shortage, now beaten by cops for ‘creating nuisance’




doctor with a stethoscope
A doctor with a stethoscope (Representative image) | Pixabay

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Bengaluru: A doctor with a government hospital in Andhra Pradesh, who was suspended for questioning the shortage of PPE kits, was admitted to a mental health facility Sunday, a day after he was allegedly manhandled by the police and arrested for creating nuisance in Visakhapatnam.

Dr Sudhakar Rao, a government civil surgeon, was beaten, his hands tied behind his back and dragged by police officers Sunday. During the incident, Sudhakar allegedly verbally abused the Jagan Mohan Reddy government in an inebriated state. Videos of the incident have since been widely shared online.

“The police control room received a call about a person creating nuisance on Beach Road Hospital in Visakhapatnam. The Fourth Town police was rushed there and found that the person was the suspended doctor, Sudhakar.

“When the police tried to control him, he snatched the mobile phone of an officer and threw it away. He is suffering from mental disorder and he was drunk. He was sent for a medical examination,” Vishakapatnam Police Commissioner R.K. Meena told the media Sunday.

Sudhakar was admitted to a mental hospital Sunday after doctors at the King George Hospital in Vishakapatnam said he suffered from anxiety.

“Since the doctor is in anxiety and talking irrelevant things, I have referred him to a mental care hospital in Visakhapatnam,” said Dr Radha Rani, medical superintendent, King George Hospital.

A statement released by the hospital said: “Dr Sudhakar was brought to the KGH casualty ward at 6.30 pm. From the smell, it was found that he was in a drunk condition. Under the influence of alcohol, he did not cooperate with anybody there and kept abusing all. Still, his pulse, BP were checked. Pulse was 98, BP 140/100. Blood samples were sent to forensic lab to ascertain alcohol content in his blood.”

Also read: 6 toilets for 20 houses, inadequate testing: Why Mumbai’s Worli chawls are a Covid hotspot

‘Treatment towards Sudhakar was inhuman’

Sudhakar, who spent more than 10 years at the Narsipatnam Government Hospital in Andhra Pradesh, was suspended from his duties in March after he openly criticised the Reddy government for failing to provide PPE kits and N95 masks to doctors treating Covid-19 patients.

He had alleged that the state government was giving N95 masks and PPE kits meant for doctors to politicians and the police.

A video of Sudhakar criticising the government was also shared widely. In the clip, he can be heard saying: “We are putting our lives at risk here. We are asked to use the same mask for 15 days and a fresh mask will be provided only twice a month.”

Speaking to ThePrint, Dr P. Gangadhar Rao, member of the National COVID Committee of the Indian Medical Association, said the manner in which Sudhakar was manhandled by the police was “inhuman” and “violated” human rights.

“We strongly condemn the way he was taken into custody. He was not carrying a weapon, he was alone, the number of policemen outnumbered him. Why treat him like that? We also saw a video where a policeman beats him with a lathi,” said Dr Gangadhar.

He added that Rao was one of the most experienced anaesthetists the Andhra Pradesh government had.

“Our next step of action is to get Sudhakar to write an unconditional apology for having used filthy language, abusing the chief minister and the government. We will then take our appeal to the CM seeking that he be reinstated,” Gangadhar said.

Also read: Face shields, gowns, masks — the new attire for cabin crew post lockdown


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